As the Off-Campus project of Europe by People is in its last phase, it is perhaps a good time to reflect on the work we’ve done so far. It has been an interesting and intense adventure. The first thing that struck me at the very beginning is how international the research groups are. This project brings together young creative minds from across the globe. In my group alone, there are students from Norway, Germany, Ireland, Iran, and the Netherlands of course. I very much like this intercultural experience as it really broadens one’s horizons and in a way represents Amsterdam itself as a melting pot.
Not only are we a very international group but its members come from different professional backgrounds as well. There are a few artists among us, students of European studies, political science, architects and designers, history students and more. I find this a great advantage to our project as we can observe the problem from various different aspects, give an opinion from different disciplines and provide solutions combining several disciplines.
Our assignment is to develop Oosterdokseiland (ODE) into a nicer place. We started our project by conducting research on the current situation on the island. After identifying problems and advantages of the area, we started building our plan, which included (and still does) a lot of brainstorming and creativity but also critical thinking and lastly, more research.
Contacting stakeholders for collaboration with us has been a crucial part. I realized that this demands good communication and persuasive skills – some stakeholders were happy to participate, others took a bit of time to persuade. I have been in contact with our primary stakeholder, BPD – an area development company that plans urban space at ODE. I also invited the Conservatory of Amsterdam to participate, as well as the municipality of Amsterdam and other companies.
During the course of the project, I realized that the plan can not be realized in a straightforward way, but that the idea constantly adjusts to new discoveries and changes shape. We based our idea on community building and sustainability on the ODE, but we addressed it from various aspects: ecological, communal and historical. Our idea has changed, but the main focus is constantly present.
This project has been a very good experience for me as I learned a lot about urban planning. I like the fact that we are working for a client that may actually implement our plan – it is a pleasant shift from university to real life. I’ve perfected my presentation techniques as we had several opportunities to present our work at meetings with BPD and at the Halfway Festival. I enjoy working in such a dynamic and professional group and I am curious what the final outcome is going to be. Stay tuned!